Regulating agency confirms gasoline has controversial additive

The agency that controls the price of gasoline confirmed Monday that there is an additive present in the fuel distributed by the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo. The additive is methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl, known as MMT.

The statement from the Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos followed a television news report that a dangerous chemical had been found in the country’s gasoline.

The Authoridad said it had ordered a study of the contents of gasoline more than a year ago after sediment and water had been found.

The analysis showed that there was an average of 23.4 milligrams per liter of manganese in both types of gasoline, plus and super. The average amount of MMT was 92.8 and 93 milligrams per liter at samples taken at a service station in La
Garita. That is far in excess of the recommendation of the supplier, Afton Chemicals, a Virginia firm, said the agency. The additive is supposed to boost the octane of the fuel.

The Authoridad said that the quantity of the additive is not regulated by Costa Rica law, but that after finding water in some fuel, the agency has opened an administrative hearing for the government refinery, which has a monopoly in Costa Rica. Water or sediment was found in samples at La Garita, El Alto and Moín, the agency said.

The U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences says that more study needs to be done on the impact of this additive in fuel. The chemical is known to be toxic in its liquid form and can enter the body and cause harm through the skin. The manganese can do damage in the body.

However, the additive is permitted in both the United States and Canada, although it was banned during the early years of the Clean Air Act.

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